Paul Elisha: The Wind And The Grass

May 6, 2014

There’s something awfully wrong with our nation.  Too many Americans have a propensity for killing.  Not only do we no longer heed the authorized execution of  prisoners with concern for useless pain or suffering, as the law once prescribed but we’ve also made physicians accessories to the process.  Add also, the strange and troubling return of frontier desperatism, in which ordinary citizens once had the right to carry hand-guns and dispense so-called lethal justice, whenever they felt necessary.

Even the once pursued recreational pastime of hunting has succumbed to the use of technology, to quell the pleasure of the chase and quicken the business of the ‘kill,’ with the use of newly developed ‘drone’ technology.

Perhaps it’s time for us to revisit the wisdom of a much earlier time, say, around Four-Hundred BC.  In his perhaps long forgotten Analects, the sage Confucius wrote:  “In carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all?  Let your desires be for what is good, and the people will be good.  The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass.  The grass must bend when the wind blows across it.”

The coarse termination of life, as punishment for codified acts of illegal  and/or anti-social behavior is now as odious as the deliberate use of warfare, to achieve ends unobtainable via verbal discussion.  As General William Tecumseh Sherman so aptly stated, in an address to graduates of the Michigan Military Academy, in June, 1879:  “At best, war is barbarism….. its glory appeals only to those who never fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded…..  who cry for blood, more vengeance and more desolation.”

If we truly wish to preserve this powerful but still peaceable people’s republic, that attracted both the envy and emulation of freedom and equal-justice seekers, world-wide, we need to let the wind of forbearance calm the combative temper that troubles the once tolerant vastness of our ‘purple-mountain majesty and amber waves of grain…’ and revisit the common sense of Confucius.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.